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Folk Arts of Japan

Folk Arts of Japan

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Folk Arts of Japan

4.5/5 (2 évaluations)
235 pages
2 heures
Oct 9, 2012


With dozens of lovely photographs and insightful commentary, The Folk Arts of Japan deals with a rediscovered branch of Japanese art.

Although these folkcraft creations have their roots in the country's ancient and colorful art tradition, their unassuming grace makes them unmistakably in harmony with modern functional design.

The author, Dr. Munsterberg brings to his work the fruits of four years of study in Japan and a deep knowledge of Asian culture, making available for the first time in English a comprehensive guide and commentary on this significant branch of Japan's varied arts.
Oct 9, 2012

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Folk Arts of Japan - Hugo Munsterberg






by the same author:

the arts of japan: an illustrated history (tuttle, 1957)

the landscape painting of china and japan (tuttle, 1955)

twentieth century painting (1951)

a short history of Chinese art (1949)


For Continental Europe:


For the British Isles:


For Australasia:


104-108 Sussex Street, Sydney 2000

Published by the

Charles E. Turtle Company, Inc.

of Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan

with editorial offices at Osaki Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0032

Copyright in Japan, 1958, by Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc.

All rights reserved

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 58-7496 8

ISBN: 978-1-4629-0887-5 (ebook)

First edition, 1958

Twelfth printing, 1982

Book design & typography by

M. Weatherby & William L. Clark

Frontispiece & Layout of plates by M. Kuwata


to soetsu yanagi

who taught us

to appreciate

the beauty of

Japanese folk art




by soetsu yanagi

THE AUTHOR of the present volume, Professor Hugo Munsterberg, majored in Far Eastern Art at Harvard University and while there studied under the late Langdon Warner. This may be one of the reasons which brought about the writing of this book. Professor Warner in his celebrated work The Enduring Art of Japan included a chapter on Folk and Traditional Art, an especially notable addition, because until that time no other historical treatment of the subject had contained such material about folk art. The author of the present volume, being a former student of Professor Warner's, has thus received the right training for writing a monograph on Japanese folk art.

Dr. Munsterberg has been assisted not only by a four-year stay in Japan, which gave him an opportunity for "direct, personal observation, but also by the encouragement of Dr. Hachiro Yuasa, president of International Christian University, where the author has been teaching, for Dr. Yuasa himself has long been a lover and collector of Japanese folk art.

In recent years there has been a notable increase of interest on the part of Europeans and Americans in the folk art of Japan, but there has been no suitable work written in English to correspond to this interest. For this reason, the present volume will certainly be welcomed by many people and should for some time to come be acknowledged as the most authoritative work in the field. This book provides an excellent introduction to every aspect of Japan's principal folk arts, especially their present status. The text has a wide range, extending from an introductory discussion of what constitutes folk art to an account of the folk-art movement now flourishing in Japan. It is" well presented and well arranged, the sort of book to keep close at hand for ready reference, and its wealth of illustrations should make it of interest to a large number of readers. The author already has to his credit several publications dealing with the art of the Far East and is, therefore, well equipped to handle the subject he treats in the present volume.

The taste and the esteem which the Japanese people have for the productions of folk art have their beginnings in the first tea masters, and hence take us back some four hundred years. Most of the tea vessels which these men prized so highly were folk-art objects. The concept of the beauty of these tea objects is always expressed by the word tastefulness (shibusa), which includes ideas of simplicity, quietude, propriety, spontaneity, and the like, and holds the beauty of nature and health in great regard.

Why did the tea-ceremony cult in particular direct serious attention toward folk-art products? The appreciation of such objects was derived in part from the tea masters' own intuitive feeling for beauty, but there were also certain factors in the nature of the tea cult itself which tended in this direction. The tea cult was not content simply with viewing beauty, but insisted that the appreciation of a beautiful thing was complete only when the object was put into actual use. Thus it centered its attention upon vessels which could be used and in so doing developed a deep interest not in the fine arts but in the industrial arts—not in objects made to be viewed by the aristocracy, but in things made for the masses to employ in their daily life.

The tea masters confined their attention to articles suitable for use in the tea ceremony, and hence their interest was never very broad. It remained for the folk-art movement of recent times to increase the scope of interest and to urge the utilization of such articles in everyday life. This movement argues that mere appreciation is not enough, that the objects themselves must be taken over into the daily life of the common people. Hence it has been something of a protest against the danger of undue partiality toward the fine arts.

One of the notable features of the folk-art movement in Japan has been its emphasis upon the significance of anonymity. As we all know, ours is an age of signature. Everyone rushes to sign his name to his work, and society too tends to value signed works. Folk art, however, by its very nature, has always been inevitably anonymous; it shows us the beauty of a world in which there is no necessity for the individual to make his name known. Perhaps in this way it can help to correct some of the evils of the present age of individualism. Man keeps demanding his own personal liberty, but at the same time he falls victim to new restrictions of his own making. This is why the folk-art movement seeks to show the profundity within the world of beauty of a world without self. In this sense the movement in Japan is more than a mere industrial-art movement; it is also significant, to a certain extent, as a new religion of beauty.

I should like to express my hope that the European and Western readers of the present volume will find it helpful in coming to an appreciation and understanding of Japan's folk art and the real spirit behind it.

Nihon Mingei-kan (Japan Folk Art Museum)

Komaba, Tokyo


THIS BOOK would not have been possible without the kind help of my Japanese colleagues and friends. I wish to express my gratitude to them all, but in particular to Dr. Soetsu Yanagi, the guiding spirit of the Japanese folk-art movement, who throughout my work gave invaluable help and advice, and whose collections and writings I consulted again and again. I am also deeply indebted

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    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    I enjoyed it. I have the first edition, so it is 60 years old. For the time it was lavishly illustrated. I don't know Japanese history or art so I got a fine introduction (up through 1957). Paintings and buildings I have seen I will see again differently.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile